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11/20/2013 12:00:00 AM


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Coveney, Simon

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Fisheries Disputes

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Fisheries Disputes

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Deputy Simon Coveney

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Simon Coveney

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Snippet Contents:

I share the frustration that the Irish fishing industry does not have a higher share of certain quota species but I cannot change a Common Fisheries Policy arrangement without getting a majority of countries across the European Union to support me in that. Both Deputies know the legal practicalities of what is possible, and I have focused instead on putting the scientific arguments together to build stocks and have an increase in the quota allocation linked to the building of those stocks, as we have done with herring in the Celtic Sea, for example, which has been a great success story.
We need to focus on what is possible rather than having the age-old argument which we cannot change about relative stability on waters deemed as European but for which Ireland has a responsibility in the allocation of stocks. There has been mention of swaps and we have been very active in the swaps market this year with France, getting a significant increase in the amount of prawns, which is the second most valuable fishery for the fishing industry after mackerel. I argue that it is the most important fishery in terms of the number of fishermen relying on it. We have seen an increase because the industry made a conscious choice, of which I was a part, to catch 10% of this year's prawn quota last year, as we needed prawns at the end of last year. We have swapped some pelagic stocks to increase the amount of prawns we can catch, and we are always looking for an active swaps market in order to get more fish for our fishermen.
Nobody is more supportive of the fishing industry than I am. I want to build it, employ more people, get more value for fish and work with companies like that run by the O'Flahertys, who run a very significant business in the south east. They are very experienced and very good fishermen but they must have the same rules applied to them as everybody else. The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, SFPA, has a legal responsibility to ensure fair play. If the O'Flahertys catch more fish, it means others who are legitimately catching fish would get a smaller quota the next month. This is about an even playing field for everybody and the industry working together with my Department and the SFPA to allocate quotas on a monthly basis throughout the year to ensure we get the maximum economic return throughout the year.
That is the process that has been happening but unfortunately, according to the SFPA, incidents last week mean the O'Flahertys have worked outside those rules, and the authority has had to take action as a result. I hope the negotiations and conversations this week, as well as the affidavit on the table, can progress the issue so we can see the boats out fishing again, I hope as soon as in the next couple of days.